Aereo wins big one in streaming case against TV networks

An appeals court agrees with an earlier ruling and says that Aereo's technology should not be shut down by a preliminary injunction.

Aereo offers live TV streaming.
Aereo offers live TV streaming. John Falcone/CNET

Aereo, the streaming service that allows subscribers to receive and record programs over the air, has won a key court ruling today.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today denied a preliminary injunction motion (PDF) from television networks that would have prevented Aereo from transmitting recorded broadcast television programs to its subscribers. The court found that the networks, which have charged that Aereo's service is illegal, "have not demonstrated that they are likely to prevail on the merits of this claim in their copyright infringement action."

Late last year, a U.S. District Court ruled in favor of Aereo's service after most major networks, including NBC, ABC, and CBS (CNET's parent company), hit the company with a lawsuit over alleged copyright infringement. The networks have argued that Aereo's antenna, which receives over-the-air programming and then allows users to watch and record them on any Internet-connected device for $12 a month, is illegal. Aereo has expressed its innocence.

The networks are ostensibly seeking fees from Aereo for allowing its customers to record their programming. Aereo, however, has argued that the customers actually own the antenna, meaning Aereo is not responsible to pay the fee.

In response to the ruling in Aereo's favor, the networks said they expect to prevail as the case proceeds. "As the courts continue to consider this case and others like it, we are confident that the rights of content owners will be recognized, and that we will prevail," CBS said in a statement.

Despite its legal troubles, Aereo has been seeing some success. The upstart is rumored to be in talks with AT&T and Dish Network to increase its reach across the country. Aereo also has a roadmap for expansion. The company's service, which was initially only available in New York City, expanded to 29 counties in New York State. In January, Aereo announced plans to bring its live streaming to 22 U.S. cities, including Miami, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City.

This story has been updated throughout the day.

(Via The Verge)

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